By Chuck Lawless
Previously, I posted on “13 Signs of Leadership Fatigue.” Several readers asked me to write a follow up post about ways to deal with these signs. Maybe these suggestions will help you move past leadership fatigue.
1. Living by a “get me through the day” philosophy – You may begin the day with prayer, but surviving the day is your prayer theme.
- Ask God each day to help you see glimpses of His work like an answered prayer or a restored relationship.
- Actually watch for those glimpses. Trust that God will show you
2. Losing vision – Fatigued leaders don’t consider vision beyond the end of this workday.
- While not ignoring the “big picture,” strengthen your vision for one area of the church about which you are passionate.
- Talk to local leaders about needs in your community. Your vision will expand when you see again the world outside your church.
3. Developing poor sleep patterns – The patterns may vary, but in any case, you’re exhausted.
- Read scriptures that address resting in God (e.g., Psa. 4:8, Prov. 3:24), and let the Word of God bring you comfort.
- If the patterns persist, consider talking to your physician – just in case some other underlying cause is present.
4. Declining spiritual disciplines –Weariness leaves little room for anything like Bible study and prayer that requires “discipline.”
- Reading one more verse a day or praying one more minute each day is positive. So, do that – read a little more, and pray a little longer each day.
- Take a brief retreat from the needs of the people around you (Luke 5:15-16). It’s not only okay to get away from people to be with God; it’s necessary.
5. Repeating lessons and sermons – Finding something in the file is much less draining than the hard work of praying about and developing a sermon or lesson.
- Invite a guest speaker for a week. That guest might have something to say to you while you rest.
- Teach through a shorter book of the Bible. Its brevity will help you stay focused, and the intentionality of study will revive you.
6. Faking joy and excitement – Few actions are more exhausting than pretending to have joy you don’t have.
- Bear your soul before God. He won’t be surprised by your thoughts.
- Do something in your ministry that really does excite you. If it’s taking a church member to a ball game, do it. If it’s sitting in the woods and praying, do that.
7. Frustrating family members – Leaders who fight to get through the day often dump on their family when they get home.
- Don’t talk about work for the first two hours at home. Spend that time focusing on your family.
- Give your spouse permission to say, “Honey, you’re dumping too much on me” – and then stop.
8. Magnifying minors – What seemed insignificant last month is unexpectedly huge when we’re tired.
- It might sound silly, but count to ten (or 100, if needed) or take a walk before determining what’s really important.
- Ask yourself, “Will this issue really matter a year from now?” If not, file it under “Not as important as I thought.”
9. Failing to return emails and phone calls – Weary leaders tend to delay responding to others, if they choose to respond at all.
- Calendar a daily time to return communications (preferably no more than one hour).
- Handle the most stressful stuff first. Get it out of the way, using your time wisely because other emails and phone calls wait.
10. Misdirecting affections – When nothing they do brings joy, fatigued leaders sometimes turn to others for affirmation.
- Go back to #7 above, and reinvest your time in your family.
- Talk to yourself throughout the day: “I’m really stupid if I do this . . . ,” and RUN from temptation.
11. Decreasing exercise – Professional and emotional fatigue quickly lead to physical tiredness. Exercise becomes that much more difficult.
- Take 10-minute walks throughout the day. Get out of your office.
- Find a workout partner to hold you accountable to increasing your exercise.
12. Focusing on a “grass is greener” syndrome –Every other role, it seems, is suddenly better than our current one.
- Force yourself to make a list of God’s blessings in your current ministry.
- If you can’t create that list, ask someone in the church to help you. I suspect others see God’s hand where you may not. Give thanks in all things.
13. Avoiding people who speak truth – When we know we’re tired of leading, it’s just easier to avoid people who know us well enough to recognize the problem.
- Don’t avoid those persons; invite them to lunch. Sharing your burden will be good for you.
- Choose to listen more than complain.
What other suggestions do you have?